Next page, connect with a Channel Software representative to discuss your B2B eCommerce goals.

Boosting Sales Team Performance: Unleashing the Power of B2B eCommerce

Essential for distribution companies aiming to increase B2B online eCommerce sales and enhance sales team results. Learn the best practices for your business and pitfalls to avoid.

B2B eCommerce sales have grown significantly across sectors in recent years. The global management consulting firm, McKinsey, states that nearly 65% of B2B companies offer eCommerce (up from 53% just two years ago). And for the first time, B2B sellers “are now more likely to offer e-commerce channels than in-person selling…”

It would be fair to say that B2B eCommerce is now just “commerce.”

But simply implementing an eCommerce platform isn’t enough to ensure success. Distribution companies should be versed in the key capabilities that make an eCommerce site an effective tool – and an extension – of their sales team.

By embracing a customer-centric approach and giving B2B customers the easy, frictionless experience they expect in their consumer lives, companies can maximize the potential of eCommerce and fuel their sales team to be a formidable force in the market.

Best Practices: Pairing Powerful eCommerce with a Rock Star Sales Team

B2B eCommerce and your sales team can work hand in hand. Online ordering speeds up transactions so companies can process more sales with less effort. For your sales team, think “solving, not selling.” eCommerce liberates them from order taking so they can focus on customer details and help them solve issues. It’s higher value work for your talented team; give them the time to address challenges with a human touch and let technology handle the simpler sales tasks.

Read on for eCommerce site best practices that equip everyone for success.

Build a site for customers’ sake, not tech’s sake

Everything about your eCommerce site should be created with customer needs in mind: Understand their preferences and pain points, and work with your eCommerce technology partner to create a site that makes product research and ordering a breeze. Provide personalized experiences, streamlined purchasing processes, and responsive customer service.

For example, Century HVAC is a Texas-based distributor that thought beyond product searches and checkout; customers can select shipping methods, pay invoices online, view their rewards program, and add items to a request for a quote.

“Our goals for the new website project included an intuitive site for customers that also fit our business needs, like displaying certain products for certain customers,” explained Kourtney Miller, sales and business development manager at Century HVAC. “We also wanted more automated workflows for our team and the ability for customers to view in-stock inventory.”

A customer-centric approach gives your buyers the ability to self-serve; it reduces call volumes and inquiries to your team, and gives sales the freedom to focus on building relationships.

Integrate eCommerce and sales efforts

As noted above, the huge growth in B2B eCommerce has made the channel an essential selling tool, not a “nice to have.” To maximize the effectiveness of this around-the-clock sales channel, integrate your eCommerce platform with an ERP, a CRM, inventory management, and other sales operations tools. Integrations ensure better accuracy and efficiency, streamlining processes from purchase to payment. The automation speeds up tasks, reduces the need for manual data entry, and the change for human error.

In addition, your sales team gets access to real-time data and the ability to track customer interactions, allowing them to make more informed sales pitches and consultations. Leveraging these insights shapes a more authentic, proactive and helpful relationship with new customers and legacy ones alike. A modern sales process is faster and easier – no more phone tag and piles of paperwork!

When it comes to lead generation, look for ways to support eCommerce with marketing campaigns that drive traffic and interest. At a bare minimum, this should include reviewing and using search engine optimization (SEO) data to update relevant site content. Other strategies include social media posts (like LinkedIn), email marketing, video marketing and search ads.

Leverage analytics and data insights

B2C companies have long used customer data to inform sales strategies, and B2B companies can do the same. Your eCommerce site will provide a wealth of analytics that your team can use to identify opportunities, optimize pricing strategies, and refine product offerings. Empower your team to use time more efficiently with data-driven decision-making and by focusing on high-value prospects and their buying history and frequency.

Provide comprehensive product information

B2B buyers, especially younger generations, want to do the research and make a purchase without ever having to talk to anyone. So it’s critical to incorporate detailed product descriptions, specifications, images, documentation and videos into your B2B eCommerce site or catalog. Good product information also enables your sales team to showcase products regardless of location.

Perry Mill Supply, a distributor of manufacturing and construction products, explained how detailed product information benefits its customers, the sales team, and revenue (read the full story here):

“Our back orders have decreased because customers can see what products are available if their top choice isn’t. They can see quantities and pricing, which has reduced calls and emails to our sales team. This visibility has helped us to increase inventory turns and reduce fulfillment delays, and that’s better for our bottom line and our customers’ overall experience,” said Michael Hobbs, operations manager at Perry Mill Supply. “Our team can also access the website from the field using a mobile device to check stock and pricing, as well as to place those orders. That’s been of huge benefit to the company and to the customer.”

Training and change management

Equip your sales team with the necessary tools and training to leverage the full potential of B2B eCommerce. Provide comprehensive training on using the eCommerce platform, CRM system, and any other relevant software. While it’s a reality that many sales team member’s don’t have eCommerce expertise (see graph below about the need for reskilling overall), look for an eCommerce platform that’s intuitive and doesn’t require someone to have an IT background to benefit from it.

The sales team should understand how to access and utilize customer data to identify opportunities and personalize their sales approach. With the right tools and knowledge, they can be more targeted, efficient, and effective in their customer relationships.

Pitfalls to Avoid when Implementing a B2B eCommerce Site

An eCommerce site should be viewed as a living and breathing member of the sales team; it requires feedback, adjustments, and regular care to keep up with customer expectations and delivering an ROI.

Neglecting the human element

While B2B eCommerce is essential, so is a human touch. Technology is a way for the sales team to enhance the relationships they have and cultivate new ones.

Lack of ongoing training

B2B eCommerce evolves rapidly, and it's important to provide continuous training to keep your sales team up to date with the latest tools and strategies. Give them plenty of opportunities to ask questions about how to use the technology – ideally in a non-group setting where they may feel more confident speaking up.

Ignoring customer feedback

Actively seek feedback from customers about your site. This could be a customer survey, or you could use it as a reason to contact your most valued customers (don’t forget the human element!) and ask for feedback. It’s a great opportunity for sales to build loyalty and relationships while enhancing the experience of your site.

Not prioritizing security measures

Implement robust security protocols right away to safeguard sensitive customer information and transactions. Security breaches can undermine customer trust and impact all aspects of your business, including your sales team's performance. Prioritize data privacy and invest in secure eCommerce solutions.

Expand your Sales Team with eCommerce

B2B eCommerce has the potential to make your sales team more effective, but to succeed it requires a customer-centric approach, seamless software integration, proper sales team training, aligned sales and marketing efforts, and leveraging analytics and data insights. By implementing these strategies, a distribution company can empower its sales team to build stronger customer relationships, increase conversions, and drive revenue growth.

Your eCommerce site, though a member of the sales team, is there to enable more sales and not as a total replacement for human interactions. Strike the right balance across your channels to thrive in the digital landscape.

Man with glasses using CSX eCommerce platform and is very happy.

Simplify B2B eCommerce & digital catalog management.

Talk with our B2B eCommerce experts to learn how we can help you achieve your website goals.

Like the article? Spread the word

Related Posts